Populations of turkey vultures in the western states appear stable, with no evidence of recent significant changes in distribution. Turkey vultures occupy a variety of habitats, nest in diverse situations and utilize a wide variety of carrion. Consequently, no particular limiting factor is likely to have a major effect on the total population. California condor numbers, in contrast, have continued to decline. With the capture of the last wild bird in 1987, the species has been extirpated from the wild. Reestablishment will depend on production and introduction of captive-reared birds, hopefully within the next 10 years. In the 18th century, condors inhabited areas along the Pacific coast from British Columbia to Baja California. Since 1950, the range has been restricted to a six county area adjacent to the southern San Joaquin Valley of California. Within this area, there appears to be no shortage of suitable nest sites; all recently used nest sites are within federally-controlled lands. Suitable foraging grounds have continued to diminish and are now largely limited to private rangelands and some Bureau of Land Management rangelands within the foothills of the San Joaquin Valley. Only these areas continue to supply the large mammal carcasses that the California condor needs for survival. The habitat of the condor is subject to a variety of land use practices and development pressures. Excessive mortality, coupled with low reproductive potential, continues to threaten the recovery of the species. Development of management practices to reduce mortality, particularly those that are contaminant-related, and of a preserve design to insure adequate habitat for the reintroduced population are still necessary for eventual recovery of the species.
Additional publication details
Turkey vulture and California condor
National Wildlife Federation.
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
Other Government Series
Larger Work Title:
Proceedings of the Western Raptor Management Symposium and Workshop.